Monday, April 27, 2015

Vienna, Austria Part 1

A couple of months ago, after Bill and I visited Regensburg, Germany, we took part in a fun ritual we have for choosing where we travel.  I got out our trusty champagne bucket with slips of paper bearing names of famous and exotic cities.  Bill drew, and Vienna, Austria was the big winner.  I was excited to visit Vienna.  I was last there in August 1997 on my way home from my Peace Corps assignment in Armenia.  At the time, I was unmarried and traveling with a couple of friends.  We were broke, so we stayed in a university dorm/hostel.  It was decidedly no frills traveling.  The night we left Vienna, we took an overnight train to Venice.  That was the night Princess Diana died.  I didn't know about her death until the day after the world found out.  We were in Florence, Italy, and I saw her picture on a newspaper with the blazing headline that she'd been killed.  I was pretty shocked.

Anyway, this time I was happy Bill and I were going to stay in a hotel.  I had another reason to be excited about the trip.  My friend Herbert from SingSnap.com wanted us to meet in person and do some karaoke together.  I am a sucker for karaoke.

I won't lie.  I was a little apprehensive about flying Germanwings to Vienna.  Oh sure, I knew our chances of dying in a plane crash caused by a mentally ill pilot were slim to none.  Still, it was very soon after that tragic crash in the French Alps last month.  As it turned out, our flight to Vienna was smooth as silk.  Bill and I had a row to ourselves, even though we booked the cheapest fare and had to pay 30 euros to check my bag.  I'm not too wild about Germanwings' new tiered fare program.  Because we booked via Expedia, we got the most basic fare.  Next time, we will book from their Web site for a fare that includes luggage and such.

The weather was absolutely beautiful all weekend and we stayed in a nice hotel, the Falkensteiner Wien Margareten, which isn't all that close to downtown Vienna, but is handy to both a metro station on the U4 line and a tram stop.  The staff spoke English and the hotel had a bar, a restaurant, and a spa.


We were in a lowbrow "comfort" room, which had a city view and a shower...


There was a desk and free Internet...


A neat little makeup table for the ladies...


A TV where I watched CHiPs and Knight Rider in German...


And a nifty Nespresso machine...

The bed was comfortable.  There was a chocolate on the pillow and a weird "scent" towel that was supposed to provide "aromatherapy".  Unfortunately, all it did for me was give me a headache.


That towel smelled good, but it was a bit strong.

I wasn't totally wild about the housekeeper who insisted on removing the keycard from the switch while Bill and I were out.  On our last full day, she actually took the card from us, which pissed me off.  But overall, I thought the hotel was fine, especially for the price.  We got a good deal on Expedia-- four nights and round trip on Germanwings cost about $1100.  As I mentioned before, next time I will book directly for the flight.  That way, I won't get the cheapest fare and end up shelling out for luggage.

After settling in, Bill and I took our first walk into the city.  From the hotel, it was about three or four miles.  The weather started off nice when we set out, but within minutes, a chilly wind picked up.  I had no jacket with me and was wearing sandals.  We walked briskly and got hung up at St. Stephen's Cathedral, where Bill made the mistake of looking at a city map.  We were quickly spotted by a man named Adrian in a period costume.  He was there to hawk concert tickets.

I was in no mood for Adrian's bullshit, but Bill is a lot nicer than I am.  I had my mind on getting to a bar called Babuder's, where we would meet Herbert and I could do my karaoke.  I hoped we'd have time to score dinner, too.  But nothing doing...  Adrian was on the case and was intent on getting us to buy tickets to a classical show with dancers, opera singers, and a small orchestra.  Bill ended up buying us a pair of tickets to see the show-- it was about 80 euros and included a free drink.  We went to Babuder's where Herbert was already waiting for us.

Part 2
  

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